Ford V8 Power! 1965 Sunbeam Tiger

For whatever reason, I gravitate towards the Sunbeam Alpine/Tiger, much more so than I do towards other British sports cars and it’s not necessarily due to the Tiger’s version V8 engine. It is probably more to do with the Sunbeam’s lines, the styling seems more generic sportscar, hailing from wherever than it does to be prototypically British. Taking all of this into consideration, when a Sunbeam surfaces, I’ll want to look at it. Here we have a 1965 “Tiger” example, located in Astoria, New York, and available here on Gullwing Motor Cars for $36,500.

In August, we came across this Sunbeam Alpine and I have been searching for a Tiger to review. I’ll admit my defensive radar engaged when I realized who was selling. I say that because I have covered quite a few other vehicles being represented by Gullwing Motor Sales and am frequently left with a, “Ah well, Okaaaay, whatever” reaction. This listing is no different.

Briefly, the Tiger, produced between 1964 and 1967, was an Alpine with a Ford V8 engine under the bonnet. Of the 7K or so built, most were powered by a 260 CI V8, but 600 or so, assembled in 1967, were in possession of the more powerful 289 CI motor. The elephant in the room here is the engine, it’s mostly apart and there is no reference to the parts that it has shedded, including the carburetor, intake manifold, distributor, fan, alternator, water pump, radiator et al. The original 260 CI motor would have been good for 162 gross HP, a marked improvement over the stock Alpine’s 93 but forward motivation is a moot point in this case. The gear shifter is missing too, perhaps what it was attached to has gone AWOL as well. The seller states, “The car comes solid and complete overall”. Ah well, Okaaaay, whatever. Interestingly, though the Alpine’s steering was converted to Rack & Pinion to accommodate the V8 engine, the rest of the suspension and braking system were mostly the same as the that found under the standard Alpine.

The exterior of this Tiger has a road-weary look about it, faded paint, faded chrome and a bent grille. But it’s green and I like it! The body is straight with no dents or obvious mishaps, as stated by the seller; there is no reference to underside rot or corrosion however, something for further review. The slope and shape of the removable hardtop, IMHO, fit the design dynamics of the body perfectly. The seller does advise that a folding, fabric top is included, no word on its condition.

The interior is a bit more than just road-weary. The carpet, dash pad and seat upholstery are shot and the door cards aren’t far behind. The instrument panel appears to be mostly intact with gauges and switchgear where they are supposed to be – that’s always a good sign, though there is something missing far right near the glove box opening. I would suggest that prospective buyers lift the carpet and check out the floors. I visited the Gullwing Motors website in-depth hoping to find a bit more on this car but it isn’t listed that I could find. They have some spectacular cars in phenomenal condition cataloged, this Sunbeam must be buried in their scratch and dent, bargain-basement department.

While I like this car, and even appreciate its unflattering exterior persona, I’m not much on the price – I’m chuffed that this car would be promoted as being complete. And of course, that line of reasoning gets you thinking about what else is lurking unbeknownst to a potential buyer. I suppose you could acquire this example and finish out the engine, but the lump that is still in place may not pass muster and that means a whole new engine. Again, not that big a deal, if you’re not hung up on matching numbers or date correct powerplants – but at this price point, I’d expect more than a “Here you go, good luck, try Rock Auto or somewhere”; how about you?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Just went to the GMC — clever, hah? — site, and the Tiger is marked “sold.”

    What can you say to the new owner but “Good luck!” After the missing(?) parts are chased down, there’ll be only a pretty intense restoration to consider. I’d imagine there are a multitude of undisclosed and not-shown-in-the-photos pitfalls ahead….

    Like 3
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

      Sold! Already? I barely finished the article.

      Thx for the update,

      JO

      Like 8
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Sunbeam Tiger – V8,short wheelbase,& 13″ tires.

    Like 1
  3. Howard A Member

    Again, a chuckle is in order. Today, most the time, we see these pristine cars you could shave in the reflection, but as tough as it is to swallow, I remember highly sought after cars today, like this, were merely someones beater they begrudgingly drove. This is one tired Tiger, and am flabbergasted it sold. And here we go again, if I remember, I heard tell these were not the best cars to drive. Someone will find that out the 1st time they nail it and go sideways into a curb or try and stop the darn thing @ 100mph.

    Like 3
    • Peter Pentz

      I have driven several of these cars in standard and well sorted state.
      Certainly on the original wheels and tires, they are lethally dangerous .
      But with a set of wider wheels with modern radials, good set of shocks etc., the handling is really good, actually quite neutral, maybe a little twitchy on the limit because of the short wheelbase and narrow track.
      The brakes are not up to modern standards, but upgrading to vented rotors and bigger calipers would bring it in line with modern standards.
      Stopping any car at 100 mph, even a modern car, is always a terrifying experience unless it is equipped with very sophisticated brakes, and good wide width radial tires.
      For example stopping my Lotus Cortina or my Cooper S from 100 mph is a terrifying experience on standard brakes and narrow radial tires, but stopping my E Type from the same speed with more sophisticated brakes (which have been upgraded on the front brakes), is exciting but not terrifying.
      Certainly stopping my R32 Golf from 100 mph is a thrilling experience but not at all frightening – that is the difference that huge modern brakes and modern wide profile tires make.
      Horses for courses …
      If you cannot accept the limitations of a 60s period car, and drive accordingly, then stay away from them, and drive a more modern piece of kit.

      Like 4
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    Back in the early ’80’s,a Friend of mine bought a
    Tiger with a rough body,& a bent quarter panel for $600
    somewhere in the LA area.
    He gave me a ride in it.I was surprised that when
    I went to put on the seatbelt,I found out that it wasn’t attached
    to the car.I’d never been in a car that when straight & sideways
    at the same time,when accelerating!

    Like 5
  5. Mitchell Gildea Member

    That interior isn’t road-weary, it’s road-rashed

  6. Jim

    This may be the one time that Gullwing priced a project car at about the correct level. I would have to see the VIN and the stampings on the engine block to be more certain, but i believe what we have here is a 1967 Tiger Mk2. The grill, SS eyebrow, wheel arch trim and SS spears under the doors are worth the asking price regardless of the condition of the rest of the car.

    Like 3
    • Gord

      Definitely looks to be a Mark 2 and your right about the price and if the body is decent it might be a steal.

      Like 3
  7. Skorzeny

    Wow, the money. There’s a nice green one, that needs a new soft top, for sale on Hemmings for $44,500. The ad claims it’s original, so unrestored? It comes with a hard top and looks to be a nice driver. So if someone spent the ask on this, they had more money than sense. I have liked these sine I was a kid..

    Like 5
  8. KKW

    They were fitted with Ford motors, but imported by Chrysler. So there ya go, another trashed out Mopar worth it’s weight in gold. Lol

    Like 7
  9. junkman Member

    Definitely a MK2, the side moldings alone are worth serious money. Not a fan of Gullwing either but Jim nailed it.

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

      If it’s a Mark II, and agreed, it does look like one, then wouldn’t that make it a ’67? Gullwing had it advertised as a ’65.

      Thx,

      JO

      Like 3
  10. Mike

    Ha! I just sold a gorgeous 2007 Aston Martin Vantage for less than that. If they were parked next to one another people would faint at the price difference.

    Like 1
    • Jim

      Mk2s were all 1967 models and this would not be the first time Gullwing was wrong about a listing

      Like 1
  11. Reginald Barnsdale

    Holy smokes. If that is it’s original 289 and it sure looks as if it is, someone just snatched up a Mark 2 for 36 grand! And I was told by an owner of a Mark 2 the reason he paid so much for his (around 160) it had the wheel arches and those impossible to find pieces. (You know the ones on this car!!)

    Like 1
  12. Scuderia

    If the body and chassis are solid then it’s probably a good deal. If pressed you could find a used motor and tranny that would drop in for a couple grand and be running by next weekend.

  13. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    You people think $36,500.00 is a fair price for this scrap yard pile of metal. I think I’m missing something here. I’ve seen better cars in police auction go for $200.00.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  14. ChingaTrailer

    Do not denigrate Peter Kumar or Gullwing. He’s an honest gentleman. I’ve speak from personal experience. I’ve also done business with Beverly Hills Hair Club and cannot even compare the two. With Gullwing you get whats promised.

    Like 1
  15. junkman Member

    Johnmloghry next time you see a Sunbeam Tiger of any condition at an auction for $200, buy it and I will give you triple your money for it and pay shipping.

    Like 2
    • Peter Pentz

      Hell pay $2000 and I’ll personally triple that as a buying price.
      These cars made even more sense than the 289 AC Cobra’s and many Muscle cars of the period.
      So pretty, so conceptionally simple, and not over engineered. Just the most perfect “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, actually one of Carol Shelby’s best conceived ideas – neither over engineered nor “overdressed”.
      Definitely on my Bucket list ….

      Like 2
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

      Never said you could buy one for $200. But for scrap metal that’s all it’s worth, and that’s what you’ve got here.
      God bless America

  16. Rolsmith

    I work for Barrett/Jackson as an Auction driver at the Scottsdale auction every January. I drove two tigers this year, both really well done. The red Mark2 went for $130k and the equally nice green Mark1 went for $80k. I would have been happy to have either one in my garage.

  17. tex cloud

    My dad was in the U S Air Force stationed at RAF Wethersfield Ford had a caravan of race cars they were taking to different military bases in G B and Europe I was a senior at Lakenheath High School. they had a 1964 Galaxy 427 a Falcon 260 AND a Sunbeam Alpine with a 273 Mopar small block Been a car buff since 1960 I know what i saw Also in May1964 we got a new Base Commander and he brought with him a 1964 Mustang 260 4 speed it stole the hearts of everyone Thankstex

    Like 1
    • KKW

      Apparently someone did a swap, they never put a Mopar motor in a Sunbeam.

  18. Dave in SoCal

    This car did have all the correct bits for a MK II, a 1967 model, and still had an the original wood dash, uncut, and the factory wood wheel, with bright Orange needles on the gauges. The body, appears absolutely dead straight, and rust free with paint that possibly could be saved as a survivor. It must have been stored inside, since those needles where fading badly when these cars were less than ten years old. The fender moldings, as mentioned, the egg-crate grill, and the headlight trim rings are one year only items and appear usable. The engine, if numbers match, would be worth saving, as it would be a 289, not the 260 used in 1965 and 66, and is another 1967 only item. If I recall correctly of the 700 built for 1967, only 300 came to the States. The console, with the ashtray is still intact, so you have everything that you need to fix this car. The bumpers are likely fixable, but are the same as the Alpines, so can be found. Find a nice four speed and a correct shifter, the LAT accessory cast Tiger valve covers and air cleaner and you could have a very rare survivor MK II with a fresh interior for less than $50K.

    For those of you complaining about the handling, the addition of the 1” wider LAT Aluminum wheels, 60 series BFG Radial T/As cured the handling and stopping issues from the 4” wide tread of the original bias ply tires, but if you didn’t add traction bars you would tear the panhard bar out of the unibody anchor point. I had two 1965 models (owned one of them twice) a 1966, and bought a 67 MkII that never got delivered due to the due the owners “new” husband ( long story). I too had an E Type, 63, roadster, and it would beat the Tiger on top end, but not off the line, an breaking was a draw with the 60 series. rubber on the Tiger. The biggest difference was the Ford V8, a the T-10 tranny was bullet proof and far easier for a kid finishing college to keep on the road. Just keep a spare set of Girling rebuild kits for the clutch and brakes along with that special brake fluid on the shelf in your garage.

    Like 1

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